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firmly believe, that the woman to whom you have paid your addresses, has merit equal to any in the world." She returned from the boarding school about ten years ago, during which time she has superintended the affairs of my family, and conducted them with such prudence, as is seldorn met with in one of her years. Many offers have been made to her by fox hunters in our neighbourhood, but their characters were so totally opposite to her sentiments, that she rejected them with the utmost disdain, although apparently advantageous. My sister, Sir, has much more refined notions, than to pay any more regard to affluence than what would procure her an independent subsistence, and too great a regard to her conscience, to sacrifice her peace of mind to enjoy the greatest earthly grandeur. To use her own words, she considers riches as laying her under an additional obligation to act for the good of her fellow creatures, as a faithful steward of that Almighty Being, who has declared that He will exact a strict account from his creatures in what manner they have used those gifts, which his unbounded liberality has bestowed. Her leisure hours have been spent in reading, and when I have met with her in the garden, or the fields, she had constantly in her hand either Milton, Thompson, or Young, but most frequently her Bible. It may possibly occur to your thoughts, that what I have said in commendation of a beloved sister, arises from a fraternal affection : But I do assure you, Sir, that I could not help repeating her many accomplishments, were you an utter stranger, and even a married man. A person destitute of virtue and sensibility might remain ignorant for ever of my sister's merits ; but to one of your worth, I doubt not but they will be estimated according to their real value. Light and darkness cannot dwell together; nor can those of opposite tempers ever be happy; but where there is an intellectual, as well as a corporeal union, nothing in this life can interfere with their rational enjoyments. But I had almost forgot that I am writing to one who is well acquainted with these things; nor should I have enlarged so much, had not I regarded your friendship and interest on the one hand, and my sister's happiness on the other. Yet, not to detain you longer, my consent for a happy union is not only at your service, but, as I said before, I shall consider it as a very happy event; and I have not the least doubt of your ever repenting of your choice. I have heard that your secuIar affairs call for your attendance in London ; when those åre settled, I shall be glad to hear from you, and likewise of my sister and you being happily united. In the mean time She is at my house, where you may freely correspond with her, and I am,
Your sincere well-wisher.
From the Gentleman, after his Arrival in London, to the
Lady in the Country. My Dear,
FOR so I must now call you, I arrived here last night, and embrace this first opportunity of writing:
What a busy place is London! what a variety of strange faces, and continual hurry of business! The citizens acquiring fortunes by trade, whilst the nobility and gentry are squandering away those estates left them by their ancestors: But such has always been the conduct of mankind in trading nations. One sows, another reaps, whilst a third enjoys the fruits of their labour. For my own part, I am neither fond of gaiety nor solitude. In all things there is a inedium, which ought to be preferred to extremes. A sudden elevation to affluence or grandeur, and a sudden fall from either, are equally dangerous ; the one too often plonges the person into all sorts of immorality, whilst the effect of the other is most commonly despair. I would choose to spend three months every year in London, and the remainder in the country. This, in my opinion, is a more rational scheme than the present mode of continually hurrying from place to place, without ever relishing the pleasures of any. But I had almost forgotten to whom I am writing. As soon as I have settled my affairs here, wliich will take up about three weeks, I intend going to Windsor to visit my daughters, at the boarding school, and from thence hasten to your brother's ; when I hope, that union will take place, that must terminate only with our lives. I have employed my attorney to draw up articles of a jointure for you, and which I shall bring along with me, to be signed in the presence of your friends. I hope your brother and his spouse are well. I received his excellent letter, and heartily thank him for the contents.
I am, my dear,
Yours sincerely and affectionately.
LETTER XX. On love and friendship, from a Father to his Daughters. Dear Daughters,
THE luxury and dissipation that prevails in genteel life, as it corrupts the heart in many respects, so it renders it incapable of warm, sincere, and steady friendship. A happy choice of friends will be of the utmost consequence to you, as they will assist you by their advice and good offices. But the immediate gratification, which friendship affords to a warm, open and ingenuous heart, is of itself a sufficient motive to court it. In the choice of your friends, have your principal regard to goodness of heart and fidelis ty. If they also possess taste and genius, that will still make them more agreeable and useful companions. You have particular reason to place confidence in those who have shown affection for you in your early days, when you were incapable of making them any return. This is an obligation for which you cannot be too grateful. If you have the good fortune to meet with any who deserve the name of friends, unbosom yourself with the utmost confidence. It is one of the world's maxims never to trust any person with a secret, the discovery of which could give you any pain; but it is the maxim of a little mind and a cold heart; unless where it is the effect of frequent disappointments and bad usage. An open temper, if restrained but by tolerable prudence, will make you on the whole, much happier than a reserved, suspicious one, although you may sometimes suffer by it. Coldness and distrust, are the two certain consequences of age, and experience; but they are unpleasant feelings, and need not be anticipated before their time.
But, however open you may be in talking of your affairs, never discover the secrets of one friend to another. These are sacred deposits, which do not belong to you, nor havé you any right to make use of them.
There is another case in which I suspect it is proper to be secret, not so much from motives of prudence as delicacy;
I inean in love matters. Though a woman has no reason to be ashamed of an attachment to a man of merit, yet nature, whose authority is superiour to philosophy, has annexed a sense of shame to it. It is even long before a woman of delicacy dares avow to her own heart that she loves; and when all the subterfuges of ingenuity to conceal it from herself, fail, she feels violence done both to herself and
her modesty. This, I should imagine, must be always the case, where she is not sure of a return to her attachment. In such a situation, to lay the heart open to any person whatever, does not appear to me consistent with the perfection of female delicacy. But perhaps I am in the wrong. At the same time I must tell you, that in point of prudence, it concerns you to attend well to the consequences of such a discovery. These secrets, however important in your own estimation, may appear very trifling to your friend, who possibly will not enter into your feelings, but may rather consider them as a subject of pleasantry. For this reason love secrets are of all others the worst kept. But the consequences to you may be very serious, as no man of spirit and delicacy ever valued a heart much hackneyed in the ways of Tove. If, therefore, you must have a friend to pour out your heart to, be sure of her honour and secrecy. Let her not be a married woman, especially if she live happily with her husband. There are certain unguarded moments in which such a woman, though the best and worthiest of her sex, may let hints escape, which, at other times, or to any other person than her husband she would be incapable of ; nor will a husband, in this case, feel himself under the same oba ligations of secrecy and honour, as if you had put your confidence originally in himself, especially on a subject which the world is apt to treat so lightly.
If all other circumstances are equal, there are obvious advantages in your making friends of your brothers and sisters. The ties of blood, and your being so much united in one common interest, form an additional bond of union to your friendship. If your brothers should have the good for tune to have hearts susceptible of friendship, to possess truth, honour, and delicacy of sentiment, they are the fittest and most unexceptionable confidants. By placing confidence in them, you
you could hope for from the friendship of men, without any of the inconveniences that attend such connexions with our
Beware of making confidants of your servants. Dignity, not properly understood, very readily degenerates into pride, which enters into.no friendships, because it cannot bear an equal; and is so fond of flattery as to grasp at it even from servants and dependents. The most intimate confidants, therefore, of proud people, are valet de chambres and waiting women. Show the utmost humanity to your servants
make their situation as comfortable to them as possible : but if you make them your confidants, you spoil them, and des base yourselves.
Never allow any person, under the pretended sanction of friendship, to be so familiar as to lose a proper respect for you. Never allow them to teaze you on any subject that is disagreeable, or where you have once taken your resolution. Many will tell you, that this is inconsistent with the freedom which friendship allows; bat a certain respect is necessary in friendship as well as in love: without it, you may be liked as a child, but never will be loved as an equal. The temper and disposition of the heart, in your sex, make you enter more readily into friendships than men. Your natural propensity to it is so strong, that you often run into intimacies which you soon have sufficient cause to repent of; and this makes your friendship so very fluctuating.
Another great obstacle to the sincerity, as well as steadiness of your friendships, is the great clashing of your interests in the pursuit of love, ambition, or vanity. For these reasons, it would appear at first sight more eligible for you to contract your friendships with the men. Among other obvious advantages of an easy intercourse between the two sexes, it occasions an emulation and exertion in each to excel and be agreeable: hence their respective excellencies are mutually communicated and blended. As their interests in no degree interfere, there can be no foundation for jealousy or suspicion of rivalship. T'he friendship of a man for a woman, is always blended with a tenderness which he never feels for one of his own sex, even where love is in no degree concerned. Besides, we are conscious of a natural title you have to our protection and good offices; and therefore we feel an additional obligation of honour to serve you, and to observe an inviolable secrecy, whenever you confide in us. But apply these observations with great caution. Thousands of women of the best hearts and finest talents, have been ruined by men who have approached them, under the suspicious name of friendship. But, supposing a man to have the most undoubted honour, yet his friendship to a woman is so near a-kin to love, that, if she be very agreeable in her person, she will probably very soon find a lover where she only wished to find a friend. Let me here, however, warn you of that weakness so common among vain women, the imagination, that every man who takes particular notice of